1 TIMOTHY- SERIES : NR 10
1 Timothy 6: 1 – 10
Theme: False teaching and true contentment
It is truly brilliant to see how hugely the heartbeat of God differs from the thinking of fallen man.
The Apostle Paul is also just an ordinary man. He too is sitting with a fallen-into-sin nature and thinking. But yet he writes what GOD thinks – and he writes that which is cutting against the grain. He writes WHAT he as a human would never have written. Because the human brain works in the opposite direction. But yet he is writing what cuts against his grain because the Holy Spirit is leading him in what he must write. He is writing God’s Word and not man’s (or his own) word.
We see proof of this so clearly in verses 1-2.
Imagine this. Here are a couple of first-century slaves. And by the grace of God, they become saved Christ-believers. And their owners (because slaves belonged to owners) also become saved Christ-believers. WHAT must that slave do now? Or when the slave becomes a Christian but not the owner? What should the slave do then?
The human heart would say that the saved slave can now become intimate with his Christian-owner because they are now Christian brothers and both are members of the same church. OR if the owner does not become saved, the slave may become slightly disrespectful or smug, or perhaps desire to be released from slavery.
Yes, that is how a human would reason, but the Holy Spirit speaks a different language. Christian-slaves’ first responsibility is not towards themselves, but their witness to the outside – to reflect CHRIST and ensure that outsiders do not slander the Word of God and the church of Christ.
The rights and comfort of the Christian slave do NOT come first, but the glory of God and the advance of the Gospel to the world is paramount. Not king MAN, but King Jesus! Christian slaves must serve their non-Christian owners all the more respectfully and faithfully because that brings glory to Christ. Christian slaves with Christian owners must treat them with respect and serve them all the better than before! EXACTLY because they are one in Christ and are united in the same love and faith in Christ.
O, how much honour and praise and glory the Lord receive through this kind of Christ-like behaviour! All praises to the Lord for His word. In season and out of season His Word has to be taught and urged on people. Day in and day out the true pure doctrine has to be taught to people. That is what church is all about.
Now verses 3-5…
In the last part of this letter, the Apostle Paul come to the attributes of false teachers who sometimes wants to enrich themselves financially through the church, while Timothy – as true minister – must regard the riches of the Gospel message as SPIRITUAL wealth and be satisfied with only the most necessary life support. He should flee from covetousness and increase in spiritual abundance.
False preachers deviate – however slight – from the true doctrine of Christ. The teaching that the Apostles proclaimed and is recorded in our NT together with the OT, is the life-giving teaching – therefore everything that he wrote in this letter.
Anything that departs from the life-giving doctrine, brings death and is born out of spiritual pride and the fruit of it clearly shows that it is false teaching. Because such a ministry brings about controversies and quarrels about words and envy and strife and friction – in short: the ego is sitting on the throne.
The teaching of the false preachers always gratifies that which the fallen MAN wants to hear and know. False preachers can be how clever, but the Holy Spirit declares that they do not really understand the truth and that they are conceited.
Many of them want to have financial gain from religion and are misleading many unsuspecting persons. That is why – where false preachers have influence – there is division and conflict.
That is the result when a church has lost its hold on the Truth as a consequence of continued compromise and the desire to reinterpret the Bible for the sake of the world.
The false teacher is always very quick for the sake of MAN, and the honour of God and the truth of God comes second. The consequence is that people fall into sin, but it is justified with passages in the Bible which they reinterpret to say what people want to hear.
Everyone who truly knows the Lord must flee from these false preachers.
Now we move on to verses 6-8…
Yes, godliness IS gain, but in a spiritual sense and not financially.
It is a great gain to may know the true God and to belong to Him in Christ, and to be sure that He holds His chosen child in safekeeping forever.
This safekeeping in the living God is great gain. And that is accompanied by contentment. Not a passive letting things take their course, but an active ability to help yourself with the means at your disposal – to manage what you do have without the poison of covetous dissatisfaction and comparing yourself with others pumping through your veins.
The Apostle Paul had very few earthly possessions, but he was filled with joy and contentment because his life had a completely different focus and direction than the false preachers who loved earthly possessions. As if one could take something out of this world into the next. It is a foolish idea. Because we can’t. As we brought nothing into this world, so we shall soon leave it again. It is only in the blink of an eye, then this dispensation will be over.
Naturally, we are still HERE and we require all kinds of things to be able to live here. And the Lord knows that very well.
Content with “food and clothing” says the Apostle, meaning not only food and clothing, but he uses the term as a formula that includes everything which is needed for a decent life that glorifies God. To some “food and clothing” will include thousands of rand for university education for their children, though not for others. Everyone’s circumstances are different.
If the Christian has what is needed, he/she shall be content, says verse 8. Not MUST, but SHALL. That means that it is the normal Christian attitude and behaviour which is the way the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifests in us.
Now verse 9….
Because Paul was an Apostle and spoke with the unique authority of the living God, he could speak without mincing matters. And Timothy had to listen. And so do we.
Look at the strong language he uses to describe those who are in temptation wanting to get rich.
The same passion and focus that true Christians have to know the Lord, false preachers and their followers have for money and possessions. It fills their minds and dreams.
The Apostle does not condemn money and possessions as such. But he is speaking about the deepest inner heart of the fallen human who is corrupt and wrongly focussed so that everything is about the ego.
What is so significant about verse 9, is the angle from which the Lord himself regards a person who chases after riches.
First comes temptation, then lust, and then complete moral ruin.
The Greek word BUTITZOO means to drown – and that signifies the desire for riches as a kind of water monster that drags his victim into the deep to drown. Greek is a very expressive language and from that, we know exactly what the Spirit is saying.
The trap that one cannot see with the naked eye and therefore get caught in so easily, are desires that are foolish and harmful, and that draw you unperceived into the claws of the water monster.
That is the tragedy about which today’s prosperity preachers will not tell you: You are promised riches, but ends in spiritual bankruptcy.
Fortunately, the Word warns so clearly, that we can wake up in good time.
In closing, verse 10…
In this verse, the Spirit of Christ – through Paul’s pen – makes an important distinction. We sometimes flounder because we do not understand it.
He is NOT saying that money is the root of all evil. He is saying that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
The Greek actually says A root. The definite article is absent. Love for material things is not the only root of all kinds of evil.
But, in the Apostle’s mind love of money is uppermost, because from verse 3 onward he is still busy focusing on false preachers. And it is of interest to us still today.
That particularly from the side of the hyper-charismatic movement where false preachers time and again fall into the trap of which these verses are speaking. Their weakness is that they are not truly rooted in the truth as the Apostle preached it.
But now look at the reciprocal effect: Desertion from the truth encourages love for money and possessions. And love for money and possessions encourages desertion from the truth! It is a vicious circle.
In Ephesus where Timothy was the minister, the love of money caused the desertion of some of the confessing Christians from the faith truths. But, it did not bring them the expected happiness. They have – on the contrary – pierced themselves with many griefs.
Three things, therefore: 1 > They have wandered from the truth 2 > They have been led astray 3 > They have pierced themselves with the sword of disillusionment.
The Holy Spirit would not have led Paul to use such specifically strong language if it was not a serious matter on the heart of God.
The question is then how can one be saved?
With man it is impossible, but with the Lord everything is possible. HE can get a camel through the eye of a needle (Mark 10:25).
Translated by Marthie Wilson